Colonial Country Club charity breakfast serves up aid for needy in Tarrant County

FORT WORTH -- Except for the four days of the Crowne Plaza Invitational, few days are as memorable at the Colonial Country Club as the annual charity breakfast.

As good as the eggs Benedict, grits and sourdough biscuits are, it's the gift-giving afterward that gets people coming back year after year.

On Tuesday morning, the club's charity branch handed out $175,000 in checks to 80 nonprofit organizations that benefit the young, old, athletic, artistic, sick and forgotten across Tarrant County.

All told, the PGA golf tournament helped Colonial raise $6.1 million for charities this year.

"This is absolutely one of our favorite days at Colonial Country Club," said club President Jeff Moten, a Fort Worth banker.

It's a pretty good day for the charities, too, all of whom are selected for specific needs or programs.

The Union Gospel Mission, for instance, uses the money to help pay for a children's enrichment program for about 50 youths who live in the shelter, many of them way behind in their school studies.

Mission President Don Shisler said the program has made a significant difference in helping the children catch up at school.

"It's an honor to sit in this room with all of these people who are working on problems in Tarrant County," Shisler said. "We all appreciate Colonial supporting us."

Besides the legend of Ben Hogan and the tartan sport coats worn by champions, fundraising is a signature element of the Crowne Plaza Invitational.

This year's $6.1 million raised puts the Colonial tournament in the top five of all 47 PGA events, said Chuck Scherer, the tournament committee chairman and a local oilman and rancher. More than $4 million of that was raised just through the Birdies for Charity program, in which nonprofits solicit pledges from donors for every birdie made during the tournament.

Cook Children's Medical Center is the primary recipient of Colonial's fundraising, but Scherer said it is also important to help other charities. The club takes pride in making sure that the charities benefit only the people of Tarrant County, he said.

"The economic impact of the golf tournament for the city of Fort Worth is enormous," Scherer said, "but the charity impact to everyone in this room today is huge, too."

Like many of the people at the breakfast, Susie Reyes, director of fund development for United Community Centers, had been there before.

She said the money her organization received helps keep after-school-care programs affordable for working-class families in north and southeast Fort Worth.

"Every donation, every gift and grant helps us keep our program going," she said.

Chris Vaughn, 817-390-7547